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Prime Minister Denkov, Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Issue Joint Statement on Bulgaria’s Schengen Accession

Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov and Deputy Prime Minister Mariya Gabriel issued a joint statement, stating that Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen and the lifting of air and sea border controls at the end of March 2024 is a huge step forward after 12 years of negotiations and six months of hard work by the government and the National Assembly. ” It happened, despite all obstacles, prejudices, skepticism, huge geopolitical and domestic political interests,” the statement reads, quoted by the Council of Ministers’ press service. “This is a hard-won but well-deserved victory for Bulgaria. Because while we were convincing the countries that were hindering us on the way to Schengen, we took those important steps that guaranteed us a better quality of life here in Bulgaria. We ranked first in the world for the fastest progress in the justice system, and this reversed the position of the Netherlands which had been holding us back for many years. This progress is extremely important, because we cannot live well and feel fulfilled if all Bulgarians are not equal before the law and do not deal with corruption. We reliably defend the borders of the European Union, because these are our borders too, and this ultimately reversed Austria’s position as well,” the statement said.
Denkov and Gabriel stressed that Bulgaria has achieved this success despite a hostile political environment and a boom in disinformation, which had ramifications for the whole of Europe. “Contrary to the spread of fake news in recent days, there are no new conditions related to the number of migrants from Syria and Afghanistan that Bulgaria and Romania will register and accept as Schengen member states. We will continue, as before, to apply the terms of the Dublin Regulation. Bulgaria does not and cannot accept persons for whom it is not responsible,” said the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.
Their joint statement pointed out that in March Bulgarians will be among the millions of European citizens who fly and sail freely. Tens of thousands of Bulgarian citizens will take advantage of this opportunity every month after March. This is also a breakthrough for businesses, tourism, and culture in Bulgaria, removes many obstacles and presents new opportunities.
Denkov and Gabriel were adamant that all this, step by step, was achieved thanks to the Bulgarian citizens. Their will to have a functioning government and a functioning parliament played a crucial role in this breakthrough. 
The two politicians expressed their readiness to continue to work with even greater conviction that Bulgaria belongs to the Schengen community. They were adamant that it is only a matter of time before the political processes in Europe lead to the abolition of land border controls as well.
Prime Minister Denkov and Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel concluded their statement by wishing happy New Year holidays and an even more successful 2024.